Keaton It Real: The Profar Dilemma
Welcome to Keaton It Real, a new column consisting of my general musings and observations of baseball and fantasy. I will be pushing this out weekly starting when our rankings conclude, but today I bring you the first installment inspired by the recent trade between Oakland, Texas, and Tampa.
Dealt from Texas to Oakland in the three-team swap, Jurickson Profar is an interesting case study in both fantasy and real-life dynamics of selling or holding a player. Now that the Rangers have finally cut ties with Profar, it’s worth taking a look at the lessons dynasty owners can learn from how he was handled.
The biggest dilemma for any dynasty owner is when to cut bait on a player. This is probably the question we most frequently get asked here at TDG and on the Dynasty’s Child podcast. There is never a straightforward answer, but with context, you can probably lean one way or the other. The obvious answer is to sell when value is at its height. For the Rangers, there were probably two occasions that made sense for Profar.
The first was when Profar was just breaking into the majors. He was the consensus top prospect and tearing up the minors and was in a position to contribute if given the playing time. But here is where the context comes into play: Profar was blocked by both Ian Kinsler and a young Elvis Andrus, and the Rangers were coming off of back-to-back World Series appearances and were in contention mode. With no place to play him, this would have been an ideal chance to deal Profar; instead, the Rangers gambled and held, assuming he would force their hand.
We’re all aware that selling when someone’s value is highest is obvious. However, as dynasty owners, prospects are our currency (shouts to Jake Devereaux), and they should be managed. If you sold everyone when their value is highest you’d never compete. In the Rangers situation here they had middle infield locked up but were short on outfielders. At the time, rumors started circulating of a deal including Profar for the then-No. 2 overall prospect Oscar Taveras. Consolidating a position of depth for a position of need would have probably made sense here.
The Rangers decided to hold and were somewhat bit in the butt by it. Profar was hit by a string of injuries that forced him to miss substantial playing time. On the road to recovery, however, Profar again lit up the minors and started to rebuild his stock. A couple of years after the first decision point, we arrived at the second, and essentially the same situation. Profar was still blocked by Andrus and now a young Rougned Odor. Again, this made for an ideal chance to trade the still-young former top prospect for the same reasons as before; the Rangers were contending and again had tremendous depth at middle infield. It would have made sense to consolidate.
With the youth of Profar and his prospect pedigree, we can certainly understand why the Rangers held at both points. We then fast forward a couple years to the now. A still-young Profar, only 25, finally broke into the majors for his first full season of play, nine years after the Rangers signed him. Profar finally has a clear path to playing time for the first time and showed the flash at the major league level he had in the minors. Also, the Rangers were not competing, which meant he had plenty of leash to adjust at the Major league level. Confusingly, now was the time he was traded, at long last. For what appears to be a remarkably light return, no less.
I guess I point out the other clear situations where the return would have been more to highlight the lesson to dynasty owners. We’re always looking to maximize our assets within the context of our teams. The Rangers did not seem to do that, but you can. As fellow TDG and podcast host Patrick Magnus points out he is a name to buy. A middle infielder with 20 homer and 20 steal potential is nothing to sneeze at. The light return aside, the timing is what seems the most puzzling. It’s worth wondering what the return could have been had the Rangers merely let Profar play and then dealt him at the trade deadline. At the very least the same return seems plausible, and at best, Profar puts it all together and breaks through as one of the top young middle infielders in the game.
For dynasty owners, the fear of holding a player too long looms over just about every decision we make, and how the Rangers handled Profar can be used as a roadmap to help with that decision making. First, the context of team construction and contention cycles matter. It’s not as simple as hold this guy because he’s a consensus top prospect. If your team is in a position to hold, hold. If you can leverage the value into equal or potentially more value somewhere else, sell and when you do finally decide to sell, make sure the timing and context make sense.
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Keaton O. DeRocher: @TheSpokenKeats
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